What is our responsibility at this time of global crisis? Many of us are only too aware of the precarious state of the world. We see and feel the tensions of terrorism, the plight of global poverty and hunger, and the ecological crisis that threatens our survival as a species. Any life form that knowingly destroys its own ecosystem is dangerously imbalanced. Our western focus on materialism and the power of greed is spreading over the planet, destroying its resources, polluting both the inner and outer worlds, desecrating the sacred that gives meaning to our lives.
It is easy to feel isolated or ineffectual, to think that the destiny of the world is in the hands of politicians blinded by power, or corporations concerned only with profits. But there is a part that we can play, a way that we can bring light into the darkness and work to awaken the world.
In our own journey we know that any time of crisis is also a time of opportunity. When powerful forces constellate, they carry the potential for transformation as well as destruction. What is true of our individual journey is also true for the world. The tremendous clash of opposites, of light and dark, which is threatening such destruction and seemingly polarizing the world, belongs to the birth pains of a global transformation. But in order for this transformation to be successful it needs our attention. It needs the participation of those who are awake to their own spiritual dimension and are committed to service; those whose consciousness can be aligned to something greater than their personal well-being.
At any time of real crisis our work is to look beyond the plane of action and reaction to where real help and grace are given. Through our meditations, prayers, and devotion, we align ourself with the love and power of the divine, with the energy of real awareness, without which we are left alone with our own self-destructive conflicts. In this time of global crisis, it is our responsibility to look to a level beyond the problem, to recognize that our personal and political efforts are not enough to undo the destruction that has taken place, to pray for help and to trust that help can be given.
Sadly, we have we tended to place meditation and prayer solely within the sphere of our personal relationship with the divine, not recognizing its larger dimension which concerns the well-being of the whole. Yet we have seen the power of prayer in the context of the larger world: after the tragedy of September 11th we had the tangible experience of people all around the world praying, working to hold a space of love and remembrance so that the energy of the divine could help to repair the fabric of life brutally torn apart by the acts of violence. This moment of global remembrance through prayer did not last, but it points to what is possible when we direct our attention to the larger whole.
Only the divine can heal and transform the world‹the forces of antagonism in the world are too powerfully constellated for us to resolve on our own. But the divine needs our participation: we are the guardians of the planet. Working together with the power and love of the divine, we can help turn this moment of crisis into a time of global awakening. And what is the nature of this work? In our masculine culture we identify work with ³doing² and activity. But to hold a space for the divine requires the feminine quality of ³being.² Through the simplicity of living our inner connection to the divine, living the awareness of the heart, we link the worlds together.
The heart of the mystic is like a doorway between the worlds. When our hearts are turned to the Real, we are a way for help to be given. It is so simple, and yet we so easily forget, and instead look outward for a quick fix or an outer authority to solve our problems.
Much of our present predicament comes from isolating ourself in the outer physical world, to such a degree that we have almost forgotten the presence of the inner worlds. And yet it is always from within that divine grace and healing come. Those who have committed themselves to spiritual work have turned inward, and through meditation, prayer, dreamwork, and other practices, have begun to reclaim the vast and powerful dimensions of the inner.
We need to recognize the power and grace that comes from within. In our own personal spiritual practice we know this inner energy and its potential. Whether we call it divine love or the energy of real awareness we experience how it can change our life, give us meaning and heal us. We also know that when we are together with others in meditation or prayer the energy is amplified. When we link together with others committed to the work of spiritual service we create a vortex of power that belongs to the true nature of life, its sacred unity. We affirm the power of oneness that is needed to change our world.
When different spiritual traditions work together the energy is amplified. The different threads of real knowing, the different ways to praise and remember the divine, come together to create a container more powerful than the forces of greed and corruption. Through this container we can bring the energy of the Real into the illusions of the world. As we step out of the enclosed world of our individual aspiration and recognize this larger dimension to our spiritual practice, we create a network of love and light that is a real force in the world.
As individuals we can turn our attention to our own hearts, to the inner dimensions from where real help is given. As spiritual groups, we can work together and bring spiritual power into life so it can transform the world. In these ways we will begin to participate in the real potential of our time. We can help the world awaken to the presence of the divine.
(Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi teacher and author of a number of books, including Working with Oneness.)
© 2003 The Golden Sufi Center, http://www.goldensufi.org